Book Review: The Smartest Kid in Petaluma by Rob Loughran

Norman has got a problem. He’s not your everyday, normal kid. Oh yes, he’s got an older brother, Marcus, and an annoying kid sister, Doris, and a mom prone to migraine headaches, all regular stuff. Norm even has a pet pygmy owl and a buddy named Chris. He goes to Kenilworth Junior High, does his homework, studies and gets good grades. So you ask, what’s his big problem?


Answer: He’s smart . . . very smart. And the school bully, Tom, knows it. He also knows that Norm is small, skinny, and half Tom’s size.  Can you begin to see what might happen?


Norm looks like a nerd, and I guess, he is a nerd, but not exactly. He works after school in McCormick’s store and earns a little money. He even practices boxing. However, he has a passion for science and in the story, he’s working hard to win the school science fair. All of this makes him an interesting character and his adventures in middle-school draw you in.


The characters in this story are well cast. I could easily visualize Norman, Chris, Tom, Marcus and Doris. The plot moves quickly and the writing is concise and age appropriate for pre-teens. For adults, it’s a quick read, and by the way, fun to read.


The most important attribute of this book is its humor and the voice of the boys. I believed every conversation. Also, it’s as squeaky clean as can be achieved with boy characters in this age group.


It can be difficult to get boys to read and this affects their education, their careers and their life. This book should appeal to the most resistant reader. It’s a good story. I recommend it for pre-teens and anyone else who would like to relive a few days in junior high.


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